Enterprise Ireland promotes and encourages a transfer of knowledge between public knowledge providers and the small business community.
In essence, if you own or manage a small or medium sized limited company and you have a business opportunity or problem that you want to explore, you may consider applying for an Innovation Voucher. Under the initiative, vouchers worth €5,000 are allocated on a semi-competitive basis to SMEs whose proposals, to work with public knowledge providers on specific innovation questions, meet basic criteria.
The Innovation Vouchers programme is a cost effective solution to the challenge of encouraging SME businesses to engage in collaborative research with universities and Institutes of Technology. It is an All-Ireland initiative and includes 38 knowledge providers, including 9 from Northern Ireland.
Evidence of success
More than 5,000 Innovation vouchers were completed between 2007-2017, worth approximately €24m.
The Programme can be said to be fairly balanced; it is not overly strict in terms of acceptance criteria, and it is not overly generous in terms of the value and number of vouchers that companies can receive.
Potential for learning or transfer
Institutes recognise strong network and reputational benefits to being involved in the programme and it has stimulated improved demand for engagement from companies. It is also was felt that projects had led to a strengthening of expertise in core research areas. There are perceived educational benefits, with many researchers saying that working with companies on projects was adding relevance through using ‘live examples’ to make points when teaching. Commercialisation of work is another perceived major benefit; 69% of researchers were involved with a project where a new product had been developed.